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Saturday, 18 January, 2003, 17:48 GMT
Gillingham 3-2 Leicester

Leicester's hopes of closing the gap on Division One leaders Portsmouth were in tatters as Mamady Sidibe's late strike snatched the points for Gillingham in an enthralling game.

The Foxes were 2-0 down at the break to goals from Paul Shaw and Sidibe - but after hauling themselves level through Frank Sinclair and youngster Tommy Wright they were dealt a killer blow in the 86th minute.

Leicester made three changes from the side which drew 0-0 at home to Stoke last time out.

The Foxes lost nine-goal forward Brian Deane through injury just three minutes later, with youngster Wright coming on in his place.

The England Under-19 international, who had played just 17 minutes of first-team football before this enforced introduction, impressed in the reserves in midweek.

Gills' player-manager Andy Hessenthaler failed to trouble Walker with a drilled shot from the edge of the box after six minutes, before the visitors began to threaten.

Izzet's corner from the right picked out defender Sinclair - but he sent his header over the crossbar from close range.

Foxes fightback

Gillingham responded as Paul Smith tried his luck with an audacious 35-yard shot which was easily gathered by Walker - and in the 26th minute Shaw saw a goalbound effort blocked by Matt Elliott.

Shaw was not to be denied, however, as he opened the scoring five minutes later.

City's top scorer Paul Dickov had been well marshalled by the home defence in the first half-hour, but he cut free after 35 minutes only to volley wide.

Hessenthaler's men made them pay as they added a second on the stroke of half-time. Sidibe's shot beat Walker, and despite Elliott's best efforts to clear he could only help the ball over the line.

Leicester came out fighting after the break and got themselves back into the game in the 50th minute.

Alan Rogers' swirling free-kick was met by a thumping header from Sinclair which gave goalkeeper Jason Brown little chance.

Rampant City equalised on the hour. Rogers was again the architect as he drilled the ball across the face of goal, and 18-year-old Wright was on hand to tap home his first senior goal.

Rod Wallace, out of action since Boxing Day with a hamstring problem, was thrown into the action as the home side went in search of a winner - and they got it with four minutes left.

The experienced forward raced clear, waltzed past Walker and played the ball across for Sidibe to slam home.


Gillingham: Brown, Southall, Edge, Ashby, Hope, Hessenthaler, Smith, Saunders, Shaw, Ipoua, Sidibe. Subs: Bartram, Leon Johnson, Wallace, Spiller, Perpetuini.

Leicester: Walker, Sinclair, Taggart, Elliott, Rogers, Impey, Izzet, McKinlay, Davidson, Dickov, Deane. Subs: Wright, Heath, Stewart, Summerbee, Jones.

Referee: R Olivier (Sutton Coldfield)


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